AN INQUEST has been held for an experienced fisherman who went overboard in Poole harbour but his body was never found.

This comes more than a year after the dramatic rescue attempt took place to find Andrew Golding in freezing temperatures.

In an attempt to reveal what happened on December 23, 2012, Dorset Coroner Sheriff Payne gained special permission from the Chief Coroner of England.

The 33-year-old fisherman, also known as Andrew O’Neill, was with boat owner Paul Smith and another friend referred to as Eddie when they decided to move the 28ft boat Puddleduck from Fisherman’s Quay in Poole to its mooring in Poole harbour.

On their return to shore the three men boarded a small dinghy, without lifejackets on, which quickly started filling with water.

In an attempt to stop the dinghy from filling up, Paul Smith jumped overboard as he thought this would help and he had on a floating fisherman suit.

Shortly after, the dinghy capsized and all three men were in the water struggling to hold onto the capsized dinghy and kick to shore.

Paul Smith said: “The last time I saw Andy he was upright and seemed really relaxed as if he was just treading water – then he went down and didn’t come back up.”

Eddie said: “I tried to swim to Andy and was shouting at him to come closer but it was as if he wasn’t acknowledging me.”

After 45 minutes in the water the search and rescue helicopter appeared and rescued Paul Smith, who was clinging to a buoy, and Eddie, who was in fairly shallow water but had no energy to swim to safety.

Both were treated for severe hypothermia at Poole hospital while the lifeboat and rescue services carried out a full scale operation to find Mr Golding.

The coroner recorded a verdict that Mr Golding died as a result of an accident with presumed cause of death of drowning.

  • Sergeant Tristan Oliver warned people to appreciate the danger of the sea.

Following the inquest, he said: “People think that because they are in Poole harbour they are safe but this tragic accident shows that in shallow water people can still drown and everyone in the water should wear life jackets and have contact with someone on the shore.”